- Senate alleges contract inflation by $10m/km
Project Manager of Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC, handling the Abuja rail project, Etim Abak, yesterday stunned members of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, when he alleged that President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the project in 2007 with neither design nor Memorandum of Understanding, MoU.
Abak, who answered questions from members of the committee when they undertook oversight assignment to the project site, said the contract was signed by the then FCT Minister and incumbent governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai without design and MoU, saying it was carried out based on what he simply identified as conceptual design.
The revelation came as the committee discovered that the contract, which stood at 60.67 kilometres, was inflated by $10 million per kilometre, even as the length was later reduced to 45 kilometres without refund of the cost for the 15.67 kilometres dropped.
To this end, the Senate committee, led by Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) has demanded the refund of the sum of $195,878,296.74, being the amount for the 15.67 kilometres cut out, from the Chinese firm handling the project.
“The contract, awarded based on conceptual design and estimates was not properly done. There was no formal design submitted and rail bridges and crossover bridges were not captured in the contract,” he told the committee.
Senator Melaye, while speaking at the site, said his research showed that the rail project was inflated by over $10million per kilometre, wondering why such corrupt act was perpetrated by the handlers of the project.
He explained that the contract sum was 841.645,898 dollars and project completion period, 48 months while the scope of work was 60.67km standard gauge, with double railway tracks and associated permanent way within FCT, adding that the whole project was shrouded in fraud.
“Now, you have reduced the length of the kilometre standard gauge from 60.67 kilometres to 45.245 kilometres, meanwhile, there is no concomitant reduction if you juxtapose the length of kilometres and the reduction in terms of the cost.
He spoke further: ‘’The Federal Government has so far invested 31.5 billion dollars and another 7.6 billion from the SURE-P fund and if you put these together, we have altogether 39.1 billion dollars invested in the rail project, leaving the balance of 113. 233, 155.32 dollars.
He wondered why it was costing the federal government so much to construct a railway of just 45 kilometres unlike the construction of the same specifics across the globe.He questioned the rationale behind the government’s loan of 500 million dollars from Exim Bank of China for the project, saying the money the federal government had so far injected into the project was far enough to execute the entire project.
Melaye further said: ‘’From our research and it’s very simple, the world is now a global village. As you are sitting here now, on your phone you can google, even in India and Egypt. Fortunately, one of those projects in Zambia was also done by this same company, CCE.”